Seasonal dynamics of the carbonate system in the Western English Channel

We present over 900 carbonate system observations collected over four years (2007–2010) in the Western English Channel (WEC). We determined CO2 partial pressure (pCO2), Total Alkalinity (TA) and Dissolved Inorganic Carbon (DIC) along a series of 40 km transects, including two oceanographic stations (L4 and E1) within a sustained coastal observatory. Our data follow a seasonal pattern of CO2 undersaturation from January to August, followed by supersaturation in September-October and a return to near-equilibrium thereafter. This pattern is explained by the interplay of thermal and biological sinks in winter and spring-summer respectively, followed by the breakdown of stratification and mixing with deeper, high-CO2 water in autumn. The drawdown of DIC and inorganic N between March and June with a C:N ratio of 8.7–9.5 was consistent with carbon over-consumption during phytoplankton growth. Monthly mean surface pCO2 was strongly correlated with depth integrated chlorophyll a highlighting the importance of subsurface chlorophyll a maxima in controlling C-fluxes in shelf seas. Mixing of seawater with riverine freshwater in near-shore samples caused a reduction in TA and the saturation state of calcite minerals, particularly in winter. Our data show that the L4 and E1 oceanographic stations were small, net sinks for atmospheric CO2 over an annual cycle (−0.52±0.66 mol C m−2 y−1 and −0.62±0.49 mol C m−2 y−1 respectively).

Kitidis V., Hardman-Mountford N. J., Litt E., Brown I., Cummings D., Hartman S., Hydes D., Fishwick J. R., Harris C., Martinez-Vicente V., Woodward E. M. S., & Smyth T. J., in press. Seasonal dynamics of the carbonate system in the Western English Channel. Continental Shelf Research doi:10.1016/j.csr.2012.04.012. Article (subscription required).

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